Play it again, Sam 13 December 2019 Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
In this week's issue... Play it again, Sam Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
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The ups and downs of work in the real world

01 January 2000
The ups and downs of work in the real world

Another new "super pub" has opened since my last diary, and at least another two are due in the next 12 months, which makes seven new openings near by within two years or so.

All these pubs offer substantial lunchtime menus, which means that more slices are having to be cut from a cake that does not appear to be getting much larger.

Not only does this create pressure on turnover, it also reduces the number of people available to join our team.

Fortunately, our team turnover is very low, but we have lost two members recently. One girl found full-time employment in the village where she lives, and we will not replace her. However, our grill chef does need to be replaced.

Adverts were booked, replies (six) were scrutinized, interviews (four) were arranged and the only one who actually turned up was offered the job and accepted it.

That was on Wednesday. On Thursday we were told that he had to go north on urgent personal business and that he would ring. It's now Monday and we are still waiting for the call. Yes, the industry does have a skills shortage, but do prospective employees have to behave like that?

It's not all doom and gloom. We are very pleased with the success of our Two for a Fiver offer, which has been running for five weeks now.

Customers can choose from a selected range of meals on Mondays to Thursdays. Average take-up has been more than 90 per week, so we are considering extending the offer to include Fridays as well.

We know that a percentage of the business is new, but it also creates goodwill among our existing customers, who are more likely to remain loyal to us as a result.

Another plus point is the settlement of a rent review which was due in June last year. After much cajoling on my part, the landlord has finally agreed an increase of 3.5% for the next five years, which I am quite happy with.

Local contacts

As a policy, we try to deal with local suppliers if possible, and this has led us to channel all our grocery purchases towards one company based in Lincoln. Not only are we saving money, but we're supporting the local economy as well.

We used to use a local company to supply and service all our artificial plants, but overnight it disappeared. How to solve the problem? We set up a business to provide the service for our own restaurants and are offering it to other businesses as well. It's surprising how many people overlook that dreary planter in the corner of the room.

Finally, a compliment. We trade seven days a week and need service accordingly. How refreshing to receive a visit from a Hobart engineer to replace a broken element on our new dishwasher on a Sunday morning. That's another company joining the real world.

Next diary from John Downs: 20 August

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